I don’t know why, but I’ve long believed that other people have more interesting goings-on than I do. When I watch, read or hear about the random minutiae that goes on in another person’s life, I feel a sense of envy. Like someone else who sat on the couch with their roommate, drinking a glass of wine had oh-so-much more fun than I would have, doing the exact same thing.
Likewise, I have a sneaking suspicion that the other people of Chicago are out and about and enjoying the culture of the city more than I am. Whether my hunch be true or not, one of my new years resolutions is to get out and expand my horizons. I don’t have a great track record with keeping resolutions, but the end goal here is only a sense of satisfaction. That’s much harder to measure and therefore much easier to attain.
Speaking of attaining, recently I tried to make short ribs for the first time! I’ve wanted to tackle them for an eternity and I was genuinely surprised at how easy and affordable they were. I cannot recommend this recipe enough. It takes several hours, but most of the time involved is not work intensive. You can basically forget them in the oven for hours. I think they would be perfect to serve at a dinner party.
Braised Beef Short Ribs (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Ed. note – we wanted leftovers and doubled the recipe
6 large beef short ribs
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
2 Tbsp garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cups red wine
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
6 cups beef stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
At least an hour before cooking, take out short ribs and season generously with cracked black pepper, salt and thyme. Rub seasoning in and allow ribs to sit out and come to room temperature. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat a large oven safe pot or dutch oven over high heat for several minutes. Add oil, and wait several additional minutes until the oil is dimpling and is very hot. The oil should be almost smoking. Sear each side of the short rib until browned. If you are cooking a small number of ribs, this can be done all at once. In order to get a nice caramelized color, I browned in 3 small batches, turning until all sides were brown. It is important to get a good sear on the meat because it helps to hold in the flavor. I actually think I should have let mine crust more. As the short ribs have browned, remove and set aside on a plate.
Turn down the heat to medium or medium high, and add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Stir gently until they have begun to caramelize (7-8 minutes).
Add the wine, balsamic and Worcestershire and make sure to scrape up the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. They add to the flavor immensely. Bring to a boil (turn up heat to high) and reduce liquid by half. Add the beef stock and bay leaves, and bring liquid back to a boil. Add the ribs to the pot, arranging so they are standing up on end, with the bones sticking out slightly. There should be enough liquid to almost cover the ribs. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and then with a lid, if you have one. I thought the step of covering with aluminum foil before covering with a lid was strange… but I was so glad I did. I think it helped to keep the flavor in, and there was a visible ring on the foil which may have made my lid that much harder to clean.
Transfer to preheated oven and cook for about 3 hours, or until ribs are tender. The smell will make your entire apartment/house/city block smell absolutely heavenly. After 3 hours, or when the meat is knife tender, remove pot from oven.
Allow to rest in the pot for 10-15 minutes. Remove ribs, and strain the liquid into a saucepan. Simmer to reduce liquid. At this point, the original recipe calls for you to place the short ribs in the oven to brown for 10-15 minutes. I missed this step, whoops.
Once the sauce has thickened to your liking, spoon the sauce liberally over the meat and serve. These were so incredible. Actually, just typing this makes me want to go out to the grocery store so I can cook them again…. Sigh.